This has been a long time coming, but we finally have a date on when, exactly, The Simpsons will no longer be uncomfortably zoomed into our faces on Disney+. The streaming service has announced May 28 to be the day two-thirds of the library becomes watchable again. That’s in just one week!
WOO HOO! We love a prediction for #TheSimpsons, especially coming from @AlJean himself in 2015. Episodes in original 4:3 aspect ratio are coming to #DisneyPlus on May 28. #DisneyBundle pic.twitter.com/WxEs9TC5D5
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) May 20, 2020
Up until the mid-2000s, most TV shows were produced in the “fullscreen” format — kind of an anachronistic name these days, given that they no longer fill up the screen of any modern set. It wasn’t until February of 2009 that The Simpsons went to the “widescreen” or 16:9 format, meaning there are 429 episodes that are square instead of rectangular.
When converting the episodes to HD Fox made the wincing decision to zoom into the picture, creating a faux 16:9 with foreheads, shoulders, and interesting sight gags cropped off. It was this version that made its debut on the “Simpsons World” app, and public outcry forced them to go back and add the original 4:3 version. History has now repeated itself as Homer’s new owners wound up making the same mistake.
Disney made the promise last fall to restore the original aspect ratio, but said it would take time. We’re not sure why; the assets clearly already exist — but the wait is almost over. Longtime showrunner Al Jean says that to make penance, one day later on May 29, Disney+ will get The Longest Daycare, the original theatrical Maggie Simpson short that Playdate With Destiny was a sequel to.
It’s great that this will finally be resolved (I myself haven’t bothered to load up The Simpsons on Disney+ because I can’t stand the zoomed-in version…I’ll watch the DVDs if I have to). The Simpsons isn’t the only cropped program on the service, though. Goof Troop, Rescue Rangers and a few other animated Disney programs have been cropped to 16:9 for unknown and seemingly random reasons. Maybe we can get them restored if we yell loudly enough…